For Golden State Warriors fans, it’s often hard to recall a time when the franchise was actually: a) good, b) relevant and c) talent-laden. For a team mired in underachievement, coaching turnover, star player departures and, above all else, losing, it’s easy to forget how rich this organization is in lore, excitement and success.
It’s hard to believe (or really, really easy) that it was 20 years ago when the Warriors boasted the most electric trio in the league: Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway. The prolific trifecta, nicknamed “Run TMC,” guided the Warriors that made the playoffs three times from 1988 to 1992. Those were the glory days, when the Dubs were not the laughing stock of the NBA but rather the most entertaining offensive unit in the entire league.
Mullin went on to play 13 of his 16 seasons in the NBA with Golden State, finishing as the franchise leader in games played and steals and third in scoring, behind Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry.
On Monday, the Warriors are set to retire his number 17 jersey, in a halftime ceremony during the team’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He will be the sixth player to have his jersey retired, along with Chamberlain, Barry, Tom Meschery, Alvin Attles and Nate Thurmond.
In honor of this wonderful achievement, let’s take a look at 17 facts about the Warriors’ legendary left-hander:
It’s apropos that the Warriors commemorate Chris Mullin’s franchise immortality on the heels of St. Patrick’s Day. After all, Mullin is of Irish-American descent.
In fact, Yahoo! Sports identified Mullin as one of the NBA’s top-five Irish-American players of all time, along with fellow former Warrior Rick Barry, Kevin McHale, John Stockton and Bill Walton. That’s pretty good company.
Though there is no formal Warriors Hall of Fame, this website indicates that Mullin would obviously be one of the inductees.
Four Siblings; Four Children
Somewhat coincidentally, Mullin’s own nuclear family is comprised of three sons and one daughter.
Big East Player of the Year—Thrice
Mullin attended nearby St. John’s University. As of a member of the Redmen, Mullin was named the Big East conference’s Player of the Year three times (1983-85). He is the only men’s basketball player to receive this award three different seasons.
He finished his college career as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,440).
Wooden Award Winner
Mullin’s senior year, 1984-85, was his best. That season, he averaged 19.8 points per game, while leading the Redmen to a No. 1 ranking as well as a trip to the Final Four.
Culminating his remarkable campaign, Mullin was a first-team All-American selection, and he received the John R. Wooden Award as the top player in the nation.
Mullin was a member of the men’s national team that represented the United States in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. This was during a time that predates professional athletes from participating in the Olympic Games. Each country sent college and amateur athletes to compete in each event.
The United States ultimately won the gold medal, beating second-place Spain, 96-65.
Not a Full-Time Starter His Rookie Season
Though he was identified as the nation’s top player during his senior season of college, Mullin was not named as a full-time starter in his rookie season in the NBA. As the seventh pick in the 1985 draft, Mullin went on to appear in 55 games in his first season with the Golden State Warriors. He started in only 30.
He finished the season averaging 13.9 points in 25.3 minutes per game.
Battled (and Beat) Alcoholism
In his third season in the NBA, at the ripe old age of 25, Mullin admitted to his coach, Don Nelson, that he was an alcoholic.
Nelson gave Mullin an important life lesson by suspending the talented shooting small forward and instructing him to enter rehab.
He finished his 30-day program in January of 1988, and he hasn’t had a drop of alcohol since.
Five-time NBA All-Star
With a clean outlook on life, and a clean bill of health, Mullin was able to concentrate on playing basketball.
Original Dream Teamer
In 1992, the United States decided that its international basketball program was unworthy of competing in the Summer Olympics. So, it lobbied to send professional NBA basketball players to participate in Barcelona that summer.
Eleven NBAers were selected and one collegiate player. Chris Mullin was one of the elite eleven. The All-World Dream Team cast included Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler and Christian Laettner.
The United States went on to win the gold medal, dominating competition with the swiftest of ease. In doing so, Mullin, Jordan and Ewing won their second Olympic gold medal, having done so with the 1984 team.
Dream Team Statistics
During the 1992 Summer Olympics, Mullin showcased to the world how lethal his game was. On a Dream Team that featured 11 future Hall of Famers, Mullin finished fourth in scoring over the eight-game period. He only started two games.
He averaged 12.9 points per game, shot 61.9 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from three-point land.
Member of Run TMC
As a member of the famed “Run TMC” trinity, Mullin was part of the most exciting offensive force in the NBA during the late eighties and early nineties.
In fact, Bay Area native Jason Kidd has affectionately stated that the Golden State Warriors from the 1989-1992 era, led by Run TMC, were the greatest team ever assembled.
One NBA Finals Appearance
One of the few things missing from Mullin’s basketball resume is an NBA championship. Only once in his stellar career did Mullin reach the NBA Finals, back in 2000 as a member of the Indiana Pacers, against the Los Angeles Lakers.
At this point of his career, Mullin was primarily a bench player. He only appeared in three games during the Finals, scoring four total points.
All-time Great Shooter
Mullin was a pure shooter throughout his career. He finished his stellar career shooting 50.9 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from three-point land and 86.5 percent from the free-throw line.
He currently ranks 24th in the NBA in career free-throw percentage. He led the league in free-throw accuracy in the 1997-98 season, finishing with an astounding 93.9 percent mark.
Hall of Fame Coaches
Throughout his 16-year NBA career, Mullin had the luxury of playing for some quality head coaches and former players.
Three of his NBA coaches actually had Hall-of-Fame careers as players: Bob Lanier, Larry Bird and Dave Cowens. Another coach, Don Nelson, finished with the most career wins as an NBA head coach. Additionally, Mullin played for George Karl, who is also ranked in the top seven among most wins as an NBA coach.
Played for Nelson, Hired Nelson
It’s amazing how the sports can bring people together full circle. During the Warriors heyday, Mullin played under the guidance of head coach Don Nelson, for seven seasons (1988-95).
Interestingly, Mullin went on to become the Warriors general manager from 2004 to 2009. It was Mullin who coaxed Nelson to return to Golden State for a second run as the Warriors head coach in 2006. It turned out to be a great reunion, as the Dubs returned to the playoffs that season, the first time they had reached the playoffs since Mullin was a Warrior back in 1993.
Played with Current Golden State Warriors Head Coach
Another example of the full-circle aspect of the NBA: current Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson played alongside Mullin way back in their days at St. John’s. Yes, during the 1984-85 campaign, Jackson and Mullin were college teammates.
In fact, Jackson notes that Mullin taught him the importance of rigorous practice in the gym.
As the coach of the Warriors, Jackson will obviously be on hand for the retirement of Mullin’s jersey on Monday night.
Triple Hall of Famer
Over the past two years, Mullin’s basketball career has been recognized on three separate occasions.
First, in 2010, Mullin was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 1992 United States men’s basketball team—aka the Dream Team—that won gold in Barcelona at the Summer Olympics.
Then, last year, Mullin was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in February.
Finally, he was elected as an individual player in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last April.
Quite a series of accomplishments for the former NBA legend.
On Monday, he’ll receive the icing on the cake by being immortalized by the Golden State Warriors.
Congratulations to Chris Mullin. Truly a wonderful Warrior.
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